Part and whole



To explore the way that nouns can point to parts and wholes of things.

Read the sentences below very carefully and pay attention to the concrete nouns in heavy print.

  1. The hunter proudly showed them the antlers he had collected. 
  2. The fins are used for swimming and for keeping balance. 
  3. The udder looked very heavy. 
  4. We wanted to know how the hump had evolved.
  5. The long trunk pushed the grass into the mouth.

Can you say what the words in bold have in common?

All the words make you think of animals because each noun refers to something that you associate with a particular kind of animal: antlers with male deer, fins with a fish, udder with a cow, hump with a camel and a trunk with an elephant. The nouns name a part of an animal. There are many words which denote a part of something, and the more we know the parts of an object by name, the more we understand their nature, what they are for and how they work.

  • Can you name all the parts of a face? Draw a face and write all the parts of it on.

A stone is part of a ____, ____. cherry, plum
A heel is part of a ____. foot
An elbow is part of an ____. arm
A beak is part of a ____. bird
A drawer is part of an ____, ____. desk, piece of furniture
A pip is part of an ____. apple, pear
A frame is part of a ____. bicycle

Write down at least one noun that refers to a part of the following things:

  • book
  • car
  • house
  • chair
  • computer
  • classroom
  • shoe
  • coat
  • flower

This lesson is adapted (with permission) from Words and Meanings: A Systematic Guide for the Teaching of English Vocabulary, by Gabriele Stein.


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